Image courtesy of Riot Games
Update (11:00 AM 2/7/2020) – Liquid has confirmed that Broxah will not be available for week 3. They remain hopeful he’ll join the team in week 4.
It would be a weak take to get up on my soap box and tell Riot to throw out all of the results of the first two weeks. But for many, the LCS is set to start for real in week 3. That’s because Broxah’s visa has finally been approved, and Team Liquid’s star jungler can officially join the team. Truly, it’s still up in the air whether Broxah will play in week 3. He may need a week to get used to playing with his new squad, which would be understandable.
Where Team Liquid Stands Now
After two weeks, Team Liquid sits at 2-2. They’ve looked outmatched in their losses, and it makes sense. Shernfire has filled in admirably, but he was signed to play on their academy team for a reason. It wasn’t by accident that every team in the LCS chose not to sign him as a starting jungler. So now we have to have the discussion. Will Liquid return to form with Broxah’s arrival?
If esports has taught me anything, it’s to never try to be the smartest person in the room. Predicting how good a team will be from one season to the next is an almost impossible task. Look at Cloud9. How many people expected them to be 4-0 after two weeks? I would wager only the fanboys picking them to go undefeated on the season.
That said, Liquid has won every split since the franchise model was introduced. In addition, their only major off-season move was to replace Xmithie with Broxah, which most people consider an minor upgrade. That being the case, it would be reasonable to expect Liquid to win it all again. To that end, I disagree with those out there saying this season should have an asterisk on it.
The Case For An Asterisk
Injuries and player absences are a part of every major sport. If Broxah got sick and couldn’t play for weeks 7 and 8, would people call for an asterisk on the season? If Tom Brady gets hurt and can’t play, does the NFL asterisk the season? No, of course not. The season is no less valid because of the misfortunes of a team.
I’m not saying that Liquid losing their first split in part due to a visa issue wouldn’t be terrible. It would, but it doesn’t invalidate the season. Your backups are a major part of your team for a reason. Esports, like traditional sports, doesn’t happen in a bubble. It’s a season long grind. If you cant persevere through an injury or some form of player absence, then you’re not the best in the league.
Now, having said all of that, is there a higher premium on this week’s LCS than last week’s? Absolutely. Tom Brady’s absence doesn’t invalidate a season, but it certainly does drive down viewership. Saturday’s match between Team Liquid and 100 Thieves has just become must see TV, provided Broxah actually plays.
Oh, and as a word of warning. Don’t overreact guys. Broxah may come in and be good, or the team may look awkward and out of sync. Whether he plays this week or not, it’s going to take a few weeks for Liquid to get their rhythm. If Liquid is still looking disjointed at the end of February, I’ll be the first one to press the panic button. Until then, let’s all relax and watch the LCS begin for real!